If you think probate costs are insignificant, think again. For example, Elvis Presley left a $10.2 million estate. But probate costs were $7.2 million, leaving only 28 percent of his estate for his heirs. A worse example is Marilyn Monroe who left an estate worth more than $1 million that took 18 years to probate, leaving just $101,000 for her heirs after the lawyers and others took their fees.
Bill Lear, inventor of the Learjet, died in 1978. But his will is still being contested in court today. Famous actor John Wayne, who passed away in 1979, still has his estate tied up in probate, while his heirs argue about who gets his assets. Even frugal J. Paul Getty’s estate has spent more than $40 million so far on attorney and other fees with no end to the estate probate in sight. I could go on, but you get the idea why it is so important to avoid probate.